Experienced a rocky ride the last time you were in an airplane? Been scared out of your wits wondering what’s causing the sudden jolts to the plane? Heard the captain mention airplane turbulence but are none the wiser? Read on to learn more about the causes of air turbulence.
A myriad of airline passengers may have had an encounter with air turbulence, yet many do not fully comprehend what air turbulence really is. It can occur without warning and is bought about by a host of different conditions. If you are wondering what causes air turbulence, read the article below for an informative look at it’s many causes.
So what is air turbulence?
Air turbulence is basically air movement which is not usually visible. The skies can be clear and it can happen in an instant. Air turbulence can be created by jet streams, mountain waves, warm or cold fronts, atmospheric pressure or thunder storms. Turbulence is defined as the up-down air currents which assist in mixing the air within the troposphere. It is frequently mentioned in airplane flights ( on-board demonstrations of safety procedures and so forth.) Turbulence is often described as varied bumps in the aviation road. Turbulence can occur any time of the day or night, it can occur during the daytime when the sun causes convective mixing of the air. When a plane flies through a thunderstorm the up and down drafts can be extremely strong. Allow me to give you an example of various types of turbulence .
Air turbulence has varied intensities and these are:
This is rapid but slight and is usually accompanied by a rhythmic bumping whilst there is no noticeable changes to altitude or attitude.
Light turbulence which causes slight but erratic changes in either altitude or attitude, sometimes both.
Turbulence is deemed moderate when there are similarities to light turbulence but with more intensity. There will be changes to altitude and attitude but the plane will remain in control. There will be noticeable variations in indicated air speed.
A moderate chop is very similar to a light chop but they differ because the intensity is greater. You will notices rapid jolts and bumps without any alterations to the altitude or attitude.
Sever turbulence is exactly what it’s call, quite severe indeed. Large noticeable abrupt changes in altitude and attitude with a large variation in indicated airspeed whilst the aircraft could be temporarily out of control.
Extreme turbulence is when the aircraft is tossed about quite violently. Controlling the plane is impossible and structural damage may occur. The reactions of the passengers inside the aircraft will vary. Unsecured items could be displaced and cause chaos while the occupants will no doubt feel some strain against their seatbelts. Sometimes can be forced back against their seats violently and this can be a very frightening experience. The outcome will be worse if you are not wearing a seat belt.
Clear air turbulence:
Clear air turbulence can be very problematic due to the fact that it can not always be foreseen, therefore there is no prior warning. Often there are no clouds present and it is often felt at its mildest in the flight deck but more severe in the aft section. It is not detectable by aircraft radars and is very common in high altitudes. Planes suddenly enter turbulent areas and suffer the consequences without any warning whatsoever.
Air turbulence is deemed the major cause of in-flight injuries. There are many reports of serious injuries to occupants who were moving about a passenger cabin when a bout of clear air turbulence occurred.
So what are the causes?
Jet streams: These are rapid, high altitude air currents which shift, therefore they disturb the air surrounding the airplane.
Thermals: The heat which the sun generates, warms the air making warm masses rise and cold ones drop.
Mountains: When air passes over mountains it often causes turbulence as the planes flies through the air on the other side of the mountain.
Microburst: Passing aircraft or a storm can stir up a strong downdraft and this then causes turbulence close to the ground. That is why passengers often feel turbulence as a plane is coming in for the landing during a storm or passing another plane.
Wake turbulence: Low flying planes or helicopters can cause small chaotic air currents which we often feel when taxying along the runway.
So how does a person prevent turbulence injury?
In-flight turbulence is the bane of many airlines. That is why a host of airlines prefer passengers to be buckled into their allocated seats at all times. The majority of injuries occur to occupants who are not wearing seat-belts when the turbulence hits unexpectedly. Passengers of course, must use the amenities when needed or exercise their legs. But when not doing so they are best advised to buckle up whenever they are seated. Records show that from 1981 right through to 1997 there were 342 reported incidents of turbulence which affected a host of airline carriers. Unfortunately three passengers died while. Two of these deaths were passengers who were not wearing seat belts when the sign was on. 73 other passengers were not wearing their seat belts.
There have been many turbulence related incidents which have hit the tabloids over the years. When flying obey all instructions from the flight crew or the captain. Be conscious of your own safety and buckle up at all times. But don’t be scared to fly, more accidents occur on the road than in the air!